Sharon and Mofaz made it clear that the army will be ready to re-enter the areas if necessary, and will respond in full force if Kassam attacks resume.
Over 100 armed terrorists were killed during the course of the two-week operation, and in fact the number and accuracy of launched Kassams has dropped sharply. Last night, however, shells were fired at Netzarim in Gaza, Nachal Oz just to the east of Gaza, and in the Gadid hothouses in southern Gush Katif; no one was hurt in these attacks, but some damage was reported.
The offensive was initiated following several weeks of almost non-stop Kassam attacks on the Negev city of Sderot and environs, culminating with the killing of two little children, cousins aged 2 and 4, as they were playing on a Sderot streetside.
Army sources explained that the pressure on the terrorists would continue, but that the strategy has been changed in that each time the need arises, the army will act in a different place. "It's better for us to leave now, than to wait for some big mistake or heavy international pressure that will force us to leave," say army sources. The military also wishes to facilitate Moslem commemoration of their holy month of Ramadan.
Just yesterday (Thursday), the Prime Minister told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the offensive would continue - and might even be expanded.